9 April, 2015 Marcus Nodder
How should we go about witnessing in the workplace? Colossians 4 v 2-6 is not a bad place to start.
First, pray for doors to open
As Colossians 4 v 2-4 says:
‘2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’
The Gospel will not grow and bear fruit in our workplaces, unless we are people of prayer. If we think we’re too busy to pray, we could take a leaf out of Daniel’s book. If the prime minister of Babylon could find time to pray three times a day, surely we can. Pray before work; on the way to work; at work, as Nehemiah did; and with Christian colleagues. Get people in your local church praying for your workplace.
What should we pray for? In verse 3 Paul says, ‘And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.’ It’s a good workplace prayer. ‘Lord, please open a door for the Gospel to be explained here, and please open hearts to receive it.’
Some Christians don’t bother praying for God to open the door of Gospel opportunity. They just smash through it with a tank. But the bull-in-a-china-shop approach just causes a lot of damage. Other Christians say, “Door? What door? No door of Gospel opportunity in my workplace. Forget it.” The Biblical approach is that in every workplace there is a door of Gospel opportunity – we can try the handle but we need God to open it. So we need to pray for that.
Why don’t we pray that sort of prayer more? Could it be that we’re afraid God might answer it? If the door does open, walking through it is not without risk, as Paul found in verse 3: ‘And pray for us… that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.’ Walking through the door of Gospel opportunity may ruffle some feathers; it may get you labelled. But Jesus never said that living with him as Lord was going to be easy.
Secondly, act with grace and wisdom
5 ‘Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’
In our actions we are to be wise and godly and loving – to go the extra mile. And in our words we are to be gracious and –wholesome – no gossip, crudeness or swearing. Why? So you may know how to answer each person. The implication is that people will ask questions. Why do you do this? Why don’t you do that? Why don’t you fiddle your expenses? Why don’t you get hammered or live with your girlfriend? A godly, consistent life stands out.
Julius is a Christian guy who was the council road sweeper in our area. One day some locals got together and gave him a surprise award. This is what one of them said in the papers: ‘During the snow we had last winter, he cleared the pavements even though he didn’t have to. He always says good morning and always has time for a chat with any resident. We think he’s great.’ If people notice how you sweep the streets, how much more are they going to see when you’ve got 35+ hours a week of contact time with colleagues?
Now, it isn’t enough to just live the life – as someone has said, it would be like an amazing advert which never mentioned the name of the product. You wouldn’t know what to buy! People would just think what a nice person you are. But equally there’s no point praying for God to open a door of Gospel opportunity if we’re not living a godly life. If the Gospel hasn’t changed us, why would others be interested? You wouldn’t buy a workout DVD if the instructor on the front looked like a sack of potatoes. Our behaviour at work should make the Gospel attractive (Titus 2 v 10). Which isn’t to say we have to be perfect, but we have to be making progress in godliness.
5 ‘Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.’ Time is short. We work alongside people who are living their lives on the edge of eternity. You may be the only Christian they know. Live the life, be known as a Christian, and pray for God to open doors to explain the Gospel to them.